The end of the year is a critical time for nonprofits. People are most willing to give to causes they care about, but donors also have a lot of worthy causes to consider, so it’s important to avoid anything that will destroy your year-end fundraising goal.
Year-end fundraising Don’ts
#1 No hook
In order to be successful with year-end fundraising you should have a hook. What’s a hook? Well, it’s an image, a theme, a tagline, or a compelling story that draws attention. For example, a few years ago, fundraising consultant, Pamela Grow shared an appeal she saw for a children’s hospice service that included a quote that came from a little girl who was dying. The quote was: “I want pink balloons at my funeral.” That short, emotional quote worked as a hook to grab the reader’s attention. More on this in Head VS Heart: Use Stories, Not Statistics, To Secure Funding.
We are an overstimulated society, and sometimes it takes a hook like this to grab our attention. Check out the image below from Santacon, a global pub-crawling event for charity that happens every Christmas season. The crowd of participants dressed up like Santa makes a perfect hook for a fundraising campaign.
#2 Lack of planning
Marketing reports suggest that 30% of funds are raised during year-end campaigns, so if you don’t dedicate proper time and energy to planning you could be setting yourself up for disappointment. Some marketers suggest that year end planning, including setting a calendar, allotting resources, as well as organizing personnel and volunteers should begin in September. Remember, you can’t multitask and do it all yourself at the last minute. When planning, people often forget to take the steps to build relationships with donors in the days and weeks that lead up to the ask.
#3 Being vague about where funds go
Failing to be transparent during important year end fundraising about how funds will be used on your website is a big mistake. Donors increasingly want to know how their donations will be used and the impact. So be clear about why you need the money, where you will be spending funds, and what kind of impact they will have. charity: water always does a great job at this!
Year-end fundraising do’s
While we really want to steer you away from what not to do, we would be remise if we didn’t share more about what you should do to reach your goals.
Turn to influencers
While not every nonprofit has access to celebrities to help promote their cause, many can access digital influencers. These influencers can be really effective in convincing their own followers to support the cause. Young people really look up to these digital personalities because they’re relatable. For example, a few years ago YouTubers Jack and Finn Harries from England raised $100,000 for teenagers fighting cancer. The power in the new trend of influencer marketing is huge.
Share the impact
Many organizations focus on raising money for a specific cause but when you tell donors exactly what their money will do, it can be very impactful. One example is a livestream fundraiser for Save the Children. It explained that a $50 donation paid for a baby care package that included life-saving vaccines and a medical checkup. The event raised well over $400,000 in one day.
Plan a multi-channel appeal
Your campaign message should be spread across more than one channel, since people will respond to your appeal based on how they like to connect with others. Some people prefer email, others are more focused on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Part of your planning should be creating messaging for several different channels. A multi-channel content calendar that outlines messaging, images, and timeline, as well as incorporating offline appeals can be helpful.
While year-end can be an extremely important time for most nonprofits, it doesn’t make sense to wait until the end of the year to meet all your fundraising goals. It creates way too much pressure and stress. Maintaining fundraising efforts throughout the year is still crucial.
About the Author: Sumac is part of the Silent Partner Software family, a company dedicated to providing exception software and services to nonprofits. With over 25 years of service, Silent Partner has helped organizations manage over 3 million donors and contacts across the US, Canada, UK, and Europe. Learn more.